It’s human nature to become comfortable with what we know and what we surround ourselves with. My mom, bless her, never wanted anything to change. As a kid growing up that used to frustrate me. I was eager to explore new places and do new things. I’ve never really outgrown that, but I’ve begun to appreciate where my mother was coming from, too. I especially feel that way about technology. I was born long before computers were even created, never mind becoming an important part of all our lives. So, technology is a challenge for me. My husband bought our first Apple computer. At work I learned to use MS DOS – God help me, if I had to go back to that blank blue screen and remember all the commands I’d need to make something appear now, I’d be lost. So, maybe Windows was a good thing for all the complaining folk did. And, since I operate on a Mac, I love OS X and the endless menus. We no longer have to memorize the commands. We can just fish around reading menus until what we are looking for appears. But I still find myself groaning when an app on my phone gets updated and something I knew how to do disappears. Then I have to learn all over again.
But just as the constant changes in technology bring good things along with the challenges, so does the world around us. When Eisenhower’s new Interstate Highway system got underway there was a lot of grumbling about the land the government had to take back, and then there was learning how to use it. My grandfather never did absorb the need to get up to speed on the entrance ramp and scared the bejeezus out of me when he stopped before entering the highway. But once we altered our behavior, and our expectations, the system became a part of our environment we now take for granted. All 47,000 plus miles of it. We like our little town just the way it’s always been, why do we need a parking garage? But once it’s built we wonder how we ever coped with hunting for illusive curbside spots.
I moved into my little bungalow by the sea here in St Augustine just a month after back to back nor’easters pummeled the dunes on our beach. The waves breached the dunes and pushed into the Summerhaven river. Once breached more sand was pushed into the river on every high tide, eventually clogging the river. Wading birds and fish went elsewhere. Kayaking and oyster harvesting ceased. That change was not welcomed by those who’d lived here for years and they spent the next several years lobbying to have the river rehabilitated and the dunes rebuilt. They were up against the crew that felt Mother Nature should be left alone to do what she wants. No matter who won that argument, someone was not going to be happy. In the meantime, new to the area, I just enjoyed being able to walk onto the beach every day. Well, the restore-the-river folk won in the end and now it’s changing all over again.
The dunes are growing again and every day it’s a new challenge to figure out how to get onto the beach. I have no idea what it will look like when they’re done. Maybe that access to the beach will disappear. Scrambling down over high dunes is pretty easy, but climbing back up might be impossible. A man I only ever knew as John used to ride his bike down to the little cove and perch on the rocks above the beach to read. I’m not sure where he’d sit today as that beach is now ten feet under the new dune. I’m sure the ocean itself will have a lot to say about the final disposition of all those tons of sand, but like it or not, change is happening.
But I’ve decided to welcome the change. Not that I can stop it, but let’s be positive. At the moment, some enterprising folks salvaged some of the flotsam from Hurricane Matthew and built a new stairway with a railing at the other end of my road. I can always visit the beach there – at least until the next big storm moves those rocks and destroys the stairway. So, just like being willing to try out a smart phone and discovering it’s the best little gadget I’ve ever owned, perhaps the new access to the beach over the dunes will turn out to be awesome, too.
I had grown comfortable with the way it was before, but I just might love the changes even better. So, unlike my mom, I’m going to welcome changes in my life and rise to the challenge. After all, don’t they claim that challenging yourself is a way to keep your brain young?